THE deadly feats and ingenuity of First Nations people over thousands of years is explored in Corey Tutt's new book,The First Scientists.
Aimed at kids aged seven to 12 years, as well as parents and educators, The First Scientists will nourish readers' love of science and develop their respect for Indigenous knowledge at the same time.
Mr Tutt, the 2020 NSW Young Australian of the Year, from Port Macquarie on NSW's North Coast, was inspired to research and write this book by his own experiences growing up.
"I remember reading about Indigenous trackers when I was a teenager and realised the work they did was actually science," he said.
"Bush medicine has been around for thousands of years and it's essentially chemistry. So have bush trackers, art preservation and land management."
Mr Tutt is a Kamilaroi man originally from Nowra and as a kid, he dreamed of becoming a zookeeper. He went on to develop a love for STEM subjects at school, however he found there was little encouragement to pursue careers in STEM.
"This was despite the fact that First Nations people are the original scientists of this country," he said.
That's when he decided to write his own book showing kids that scientists haven't always been in a lab wearing a white coat.
The book consists of a collection of stories Mr Tutt has researched and put together detailing the past and present ways First Nations people use science.
"The book has been beautifully illustrated by Blak Douglas and I hope it will teach Indigenous and non-Indigenous kids about our culture and how science was used.
"We often don't think of science being all around us, but it is."
In 2018, while working as a research assistant for the University of Sydney, Mr Tutt founded Deadly Science, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to provide science books and telescopes to remote schools in Australia, and connects young Indigenous people with mentors to encourage their participation in STEM subjects.
Since it's inception, the program has connected with over 100 schools, delivered over 16,000 books and hundreds of telescopes.
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Mr Tutt and the team at DeadlyScience have recently been recognised for their hard work by being awarded the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion 2021.
They continue to work tirelessly to send STEM resources to Indigenous communities and show First Nations kids that STEM is for them.
"I struggled with my learning when I was younger and to now be publishing a book to help kids learn about their history is a very proud moment," Mr Tutt said.
"Not all kids will pursue a career in STEM or become a scientist, but even if this book inspires them to follow their passions, that's tremendous."
Mr Tutt said winning the award is a proud moment for all of the work the team has done.
"The Eureka Prizes are like the Oscars for science. It's a huge honour," he said.
"It's exciting. I'm very proud."
The awards were held virtually this year on October 7 due to COVID restrictions.
"I watched the awards from home on Birpai land with my fiance and my dog, it was pretty special," Mr Tutt said.
"Growing up in regional NSW, this is a big deal for me. I want the young kids who look up to me to realise they can achieve their goals."
The DeadlyScience team have provided thousands of culturally appropriate science resources to schools in remote communities and connected nearly 10,000 young Indigenous people with mentors.
During lockdown, DeadlyScience also worked to connect students with these mentors through a series of Zoom meetings called the Deadliest Yarn.
Mr Tutt has used his platform to inspire young people to find their passion and follow it.
"The best thing about what I do is helping kids find something they're passionate about and watching them realise that they can get there," he said.
"I feel that I have a responsibility to make STEM resources accessible for all students, especially those in remote areas.
"I want kids to know that they can follow their dreams and be who they want to be."
The First Scientists was published on October 13 and is available for purchase online.